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How to win friends and #influence people on Instagram

These Dallasites turned their Instagram side-hustle into a full-time job. Here's how they did it.

DALLAS — Instagram may be your favorite place to scroll. Who doesn't love a feed filled with gorgeous photos from resorts and restaurants, likely featuring someone in a great outfit?

These days, whether you realize it or not, a lot of what you’re looking at online is making people real money. 

How? We asked an expert. 

"I never imagined I ever would be making a career off of Instagram," Lily Kramlich-Taylor said.

Kramlich-Taylor and Kara Shannon co-founded an account you may follow, Dallasites101. They launched four years ago when they were new in town.

106.9k Followers, 4,804 Following, 3,753 Posts - See Instagram photos and videos from Dallasites101 (@dallasites101)

"At first it was very much ‘We’re two transplants from two coasts exploring the city, come explore it with us,'" Kramlich-Taylor said.

The women had day jobs in communications and marketing, but spent nights and weekends sharing highlights of their new city. And that’s great, if someone’s paying attention.

Which brings us to the first Influencer Secret to Success: Build your audience by liking them.

"We would think, 'Where do new people go when they first move to Dallas?'" she said. "We would look at The Rustic, Katy Trail Ice House, the American Airlines Center and pretty much look at the geotag and like photos."

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That 'like' was an introduction, of sorts. People wanted to know what this account was that liked them, and most of the time, they’d follow back.

"We made a lot of Instagram friends right from the start," Kramlich-Taylor said.

And their numbers started soaring. The duo incorporated Dallasites101 that first year.

"We started actually making money in our second year," Kramlich-Taylor said. 

That brings us to the second Influencer Secret to Success: Once you build it, brands will come. 

Businesses soon were willing to pay for the number of eyeballs seeing Dallasites101’s posts. In four years, they grew from local companies to adding brands as big as Fossil and 7-Eleven, all spending serious money for a single Instagram photo, to start.

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There are a few variables, but costs for a single post can range from $300 to $1,000.

Throw in some Instagram Stories, placement on their website and more, and that customized marketing adds up, reaching all of Dallasites101’s more than 106,000 followers.

It is absolutely worth it, for clients like Jolie Barrios. The North Texas realtor wanted to reach millennials.

"I’m really good at first-time home buyers and working with them, so I was like, 'Where can I tap into that?'" she said. 

She figured she needed to be where they are on the 'gram. She hired the Dallasites to help her do it.

"I think it’s just the new way of advertising," Barrios said.

The proof that all this works is that Kramlich-Taylor and Shannon, both under 30, were able to leave their day jobs earlier this year. What started as a successful side hustle now pays all their bills.

"We see it as a business," Kramlich-Taylor said. "And we want to be recognized as businesswomen."

Think about that next time you’re scrolling.